Friday, August 19, 2011
How the Left and Right Got Their Names By Chuck McGlawn
How the Right got its name is a no brainer, closely associated with Conservatives they simply called themselves the opposite to their opposition, the left. Now, how the Left got its name is a little more complicated and somewhat clouded. My assumption is that Karl Marx called his Communist movement a “movement of the left” because of the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly. The First Estate (the clergy and "Religion is the opiate of the proletariat".) and the Second Estate (the landed nobility, the exploiters of labor) was the power elite of the day sat on right side of Louie XVI. They were seen by Marx as the enemy, and he therefore called his movement a movement of the left. Lenin and Trotsky continued to refer to Communism as a movement of the left.
Even without my assumption, the usage over the years confirms many times over that Totalitarianism, Communism and Socialism (all 100% government) have always been referred to as "left" few people get this one wrong.
Now, stay with me here, if 100% government is the extreme left, and the starting point on the left end of a political spectrum, then 0% government, or Anarchy, would be the exact opposite and the ending point on the right end of that political spectrum. This is not conjecture or just my opinion. This single plane spectrum, with 100% government on the left and 0% government on the right, is the ONLY measuring device that takes in every person and every governmental system or lack of system on the planet.
There are “Big Tent” libertarians, there are the “Taxes are theft” libertarians. There are single issue Libertarians e.g. Anti-Gun Control, pro choice, libertarians, and many others. There are no “more government” Libertarians, this would mean there is no such thing as a “left libertarian”.
In The Transformation of the American Right, first published in Continuum, Summer 1964, pp. 220–231. Murray Rothbard correctly observed,
The modern American Right began, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, as a reaction against the New Deal and the Roosevelt Revolution, and specifically as an opposition to the critical increase of statism and state intervention… (Emphasis added)
According to Dr. Rothbard, the left/right political spectrum measures the increases in governmental power, especially the power to intervene into the daily lives of individuals and businesses.
A reinforcement of this concept is found in “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” published in 1969, Rothbard further observed: “…we adopted the standard view, (Emphasis added) let me repeat “…we adopted the standard view, (Emphasis added) of the political spectrum: “left,” meant socialism, or total power of the state; the further ‘right’ one went the less government one favored. Hence, we called ourselves “extreme rightists." Rothbard’s standard view of the left right political Spectrum would have looked like this, I have added some of the major occupants and their relative positions on the chart. (view full screen)
100% government ß-----------------------------------------------------------L---I --B---E--R--T--A--R--I --A-- Nà 0% government.
Left (Totalitarian Communist Socialism Fascist Nazi) Anarchy . Right
Note: Because different Libertarians believe in different amounts of government, we have spread Libertarianism over the right end of the chart.
Additional confirmation, farther along in the same article Rothbard said, “Originally, our historical heroes were such men as [Thomas] Jefferson, [Thomas] Paine, [John]Cobden and [Richard] Bright and [Herbert] Spencer. As our views became purer and more consistent, we eagerly embraced such near-anarchists as the voluntarist, Auberon Herbert, and the American individualist-anarchists, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin R. Tucker.”
In other words as they became “purer” and more “consistent” in their Libertarians thinking, there heroes were chosen from men that were closer to anarchy and 0% government on the right end of the Political Spectrum, that Dr. Rothbard called the standard view.